Felicia Sonmez, a newspaper reporter with The Washington Post, tweets a reference to a story about Kobe Bryant that broke years ago. She does so on the day he dies in a helicopter crash with several others, including his own thirteen year old daughter. She wrote:
The backlash is swift from the public on social media, and it is overwhelmingly negative from fans of the basketball player. Verbal abuse and threats—the usual shit show of public outrage—but what follows is much worse:
“National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”
~Washington Post Managing Editor, Tracy Grant.
Undermined the work of her colleagues? How so?
Somnez is referencing a real case, already written about, with a body of factual evidence and a long history of reportage. Her tweet doesn’t even qualify as a biased opinion—It’s a factual headline.
Sure, maybe it would be more appropriate if Felicia Somnez had the foresight to have shown some (shall we say) class and restraint, by waiting at least a day before tweeting that messsage, to allow Kobe Bryant’s family, friends, and fans, to express their grief at his death.
A respectful silence.
But, is it social justice that Felicia Sonmez is placed on administrative leave as punishment for her tweet? Smacks of censorship followed by exile to the shame box without pay, to me.
And I wonder…what’s next: The Gulag? The firing squad?
The court of public opinion is still having its day with Felicia Somnez. Lynch mobs have assembled, death threats delivered, and the rotten tomatoes and sharp stones of invective are being hurled at her from the mouths of self-righteous and outraged people.
As for The Washington Post…
“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the motto scrawled under the newspaper’s title.
WaPo just switched off the lights in their own house.
~Richard La Rosa
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Aly Wane, a peace activist with Syracuse Peace Council in New York, wrote these compassionate and well-balanced words on Facebook on the subject of Kobe Bryant that I think are well-worth a read.